On today’s podcast, we present part two of a two-part interview with filmmakers Marc Levin and Daphne Pinkerson (you can find part 1 here), who — over the last three decades — have made some of the most in depth and insightful documentaries about the overlapping American crises of crime, incarceration, societal disruption and the struggles of governments to cope with these seemingly intractable issues. 

In this part we focus on their latest work, the HBO documentary Stockton on my Mind examining Stockton, California and it’s dynamic young mayor, Michael Tubbs. We begin by discussing how the film is in many ways a culmination of much of their earlier work, especially their 2 season Documentary Series, Brick City which focused on Newark, New Jersey during Corey Booker’s tenure as mayor of that city.

Kary Antholis:

It seems like a pivotal moment in your careers where a lot of the social impact of these issues kind of comes together in Brick City. And you were looking at the social ramifications of street violence, drug distribution, family dysfunction, all coming together in a city where people of goodwill are trying to figure out solutions. I wonder if you could tell us a bit about that experience and then perhaps segue that into talking about Stockton on My Mind.

Marc Levin:

Yes, you’re right. It led to Brick City in the sense of what Daphne had said earlier of seeing the social ills and the failures of our society embodied in these young people’s lives who didn’t know what to do. They sought these groups, these crews, these gangs. As a surrogate family, they didn’t know what to do in terms of their own future making a living, the whole economic landscape had changed.

So the question was, how can you kind of map that out? How can you see the connections in a community instead of just focusing simply on the kids that are in trouble, the troubled kids and their stories? And that’s where the idea of Brick City, obviously Cory Booker was a charismatic, local political and rising star. Elizabeth is where I grew up, is right next to Newark. So this was, for me, like going back home. And the highest compliment I ever heard for Brick City is when we premiered the first two episodes at Sundance. And somebody came up to Robert Redford, and Forest Whitaker, and myself and said, “Who was that actor that played the mayor?” And that was because I had done this series with Richard Street Time, which again was based on his life as… It was about parolees and parole officers.

And so I had gotten this series buck that, “Wow, these series are pretty interesting. You can really follow characters’ stories and see all the connections. And you’ve got a much bigger canvas to work on.” And I was like, “Could we do that in the nonfiction form? And could we take everything that we had seen in these prisons, in these street gangs, in this underworld? Could we put in the community and try to like a scripted show tell over a series?” And that was the idea for Brick City. And luckily, Cory Booker totally took to that idea.

Daphne Pinkerson:

Yeah, for me, the amazing thing about Brick City is that that came after a sort of generation of kids watching reality TV. And then we did Brick City and people were like, “This is amazing. This is like realer than reality TV.” And really, it was like a documentary cut up in half hour segments. But that was an interesting sort of evolution to see. It sort of made you feel old.

Kary Antholis:

Tell us a little bit about your observations about the way that Booker tried to deal with the issues that plagued Newark at the time.

Marc Levin:

Well, to Cory’s credit, he knew that education and economic opportunity were at the root of so much. But where he and Garry McCarthy, who was the police chief that he hired, and there was tremendous controversy surrounding that because he was white, he was from New York. He had risen under Giuliani with the CompStat program. Both of them were somewhat resistant to the idea that you need to engage these gangs, these kids. You can’t just put them all away.

They felt, or certainly Gary at the beginning, and I would say they evolved, but at the beginning it was like, well, sitting down and talking with the leader of the Bloods, or the Crips, or whatever crews were making trouble is like surrendering and giving them the recognition. It’s wrong. 

And by the time we left Newark, I think that idea had changed. And Gary McCarthy of course, went on to work for Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. 

And I think the education initiative that the mayor, Booker, was able to get lots of money from Mark Zuckerberg and they’re still arguing over exactly how that was spent, but I think the idea and even Ras Baraka continuing it, the idea of how essential getting control of the local school system, Newark had lost control of its school system and regaining control and making education so key, that was very important to Cory.

But it’s hard. And that little piece in Brick City that went viral with Ras Baraka, who was the principal of Central High School when three kids were shot the day before, and they held an assembly and Ras Baraka made that famous speech, which, this is not normal to these kids. What are we doing? You just had come to school and you except three of your classmates were shot yesterday. This is not normal. And so that no matter what you did, the attention that was drawn to these horrific… and then the first one was of course the triple homicide that was right when we met Cory and Gary McCarthy, when three kids had been lined up and executed. So these things just overwhelmed what else you were doing.

And of course, when we were there and started actually in 2008… 2007, 2008, the great recession was happening. So they were in the middle of also laying off municipal workers, laying off cops. So it was, I think, more than anything what was revealed was character. And to Cory’s credit, I know that Sharpe James came after him, and even Ras Baraka. They’ve made their peace now, but he’s not black enough, he’s suburban, he’s not from Newark, he’s not down with us.

No, Cory was committed. Cory lived in the hood. And his missionary zeal is not just for the camera. It’s for real. And I respect the guy tremendously and continue to follow his political career. But I just have to say that starting with Gang War definitely was with me. And my father was with me. We’ve gone to too many funerals. At first you go as a filmmaker and you’re kind of objective and you’re watching it, it’s sad, it’s tragic. And then people you know start getting killed. And sadly one of the stars of Brick City, Creep, is gone, was murdered. Still unsolved crime. Same in Chicago when Lee McCullough… the principal of Fenger High was trying to save him. He was murdered. Binkie is gone, King Sal is gone. It’s just. At some point you’re no longer just a filmmaker, you’re a friend.

Daphne Pinkerson:

Yeah. It’s really sad also when Thug Life the little brother, Kevin. It’s like he had every opportunity to see the role model in his brother and not to follow his path. And what ended up happening is, now he’s in prison. And he came up and he was an intern in our office, but he was under 18 and there was no way for us to get housing for him. So we said, “Look, just go home and then come back and maybe we can apply for some kind of government assistance for you to stay up here in New York with us.” And he’s like, “I know if I go back, I’m going to get back into it.” And I’m like, “Why would you do that? You already know not to get back into it. Just hang in there for a year or so. And it’s just, there’s something ineluctable about it. You get back into the scene and it just sucks you back in.”

And now the poor guy’s in prison. And unfortunately he was convicted after he was a juvenile. 

Kary Antholis:

It’s fascinating. I want to make the transition from Brick City to Stockton on my Mind. Obviously, you guys brought the experience of Brick City and Cory Booker’s governance of that city to your working with Michael Tubbs Jr. on the Stockton film. What were your observations going in about Tubbs and your hypotheses about what was going on in Stockton based on your experience in Newark? And then how did those preconceptions that you may have had going into Stockton turnout? What did you find that was different from what you expected and what did you find that confirmed suspicions that you had going in?

Marc Levin:

Originally I’d gone to Stockton as part of this other series of films that we were doing for HBO on this global economic forces and how they were impacting everyday people’s lives, that was Schmatta, and Hard Times, and Class Divide. And Stockton was the ground zero for the subprime mortgage collapse. And that kicked off the Great Recession. So that’s how I went there originally. It didn’t work out and Mike Marangu who teamed up with us in producing was from Sacramento. And he said, “You got to come back here a few years later. They’re these young kids that have taken over the city council.” That’s where I met Michael Tubbs. He was 22 years old. 

And that’s what he said to me outside city hall. We were talking and he said, “Oh, I got the support of Oprah Winfrey, and she’s only supported two other candidates in her life, Cory Booker and Barack Obama.” And I said, “Oh, okay. Well, that’s pretty good company. I better keep my eye on this young man.” And then in 2016, when he was elected the youngest mayor at 26 of a major US city, I reconnected with him. And he was already talking about this Universal Basic Income idea, which Daphne and I had run into on these other films, which was still an outlier. 

But it was an intriguing idea of Universal Basic Income as a next step in kind of a social safety net. So I have to admit, I was surprised when HBO green-lighted it because it was still rather unformed, they had these programs. Yes, here was an idea of a town that had hit its rock bottom, had gone as far down as you could go. But it was unclear. You’ll say like, “What emerged? What did we learn?” I mean two things.

First of all, Michael is an incredible young man. But he didn’t have, I guess you would call it the preacher charismatic energy of Cory, the electrifying energy that Cory was capable of as a public speaker. And there was something that always made you wonder what’s going on in his head. What’s he thinking about? He’s an intellect and what is he thinking about? I remember discussing with them right off the bat like, “Maybe we could make this a little different and maybe we could figure out a way to go inside your head.” Stockton on my Mind, that was the beginning.

And then the other side of it was, I wasn’t sure, I’m being honest, whether he could carry the film alone and he was not comfortable necessarily trying to carry the film alone. And so we met on that common ground. And so the idea was, we need an ensemble. But who that ensemble would be, I wanted young people that somehow mirrored kind of what his parents had struggled with a generation earlier. He was totally open to that. But when it came to his father who was in prison for life, had been a gang leader in Stockton, he was hesitant. Beyond hesitant, he was not comfortable with it. And I understand why. He’s a politician and people could use it against him. 

But I asked. I said, “Look, I’m not asking you to do anything, but I would like to be able to reach out to your father on my own through my own contacts and just see if I can meet with him, see if I can get to know him.” And he did accept that. He said, “Fine, I have nothing to do with it.”

So obviously meeting his father eventually Daphne was able to arrange with other people we know getting access to film in the California state corrections system. That changed things dramatically. His father was incredibly articulate, intelligent, charismatic. And then finding the young people, that was like searching for a needle in a haystack. In other words, like, we wanted to find a teenage girl that is pregnant. Like your mom was with you. And we wanted to find a kid like your dad, who’s a smart kid, a good kid, but is getting into trouble on the street. And the mayor was like, “Yeah, good luck with that, but go over to Edison High, and that’s the place to start.” And we happened to go over the day of Homecoming and we just got sucked into that world. And that opened up all these other possibilities.

But you’re right. The challenge was, okay, all these problems that we’d seen in the streets, and in the prisons, and in schools, how do you go about changing that? And in Brick City, we certainly were looking at that in Chicagoland. But here was a city that had gone as far down as you could, in fact, it was the largest city to declare bankruptcy in the United States history before Detroit, and was now turning itself into a social policy incubator with all these new ideas.

That was incredibly exciting, but it would only work intellectually, these programs. And so we needed that emotional hook. How can… this is an HBO film, this isn’t a PBS film or a C-SPAN examination. How can we bring all of this alive so people are going to want to watch it, they’re going to be moved by it? And that’s where Tubbs’ father, Isaiah, Joy, Jasmine, Raymond, these other characters that were in the ensemble made such a difference in that film.

Kary Antholis:

Daphne, tell me a bit about your sense of these three main programs that are at the heart of Michael Tubbs’ efforts in Stockton, the Universal Basic Income program, the Stockton Scholars program, and the Advance Peace program, and how that compared to the way that Cory Booker approached dealing with the systemic issues in Newark in the early 2000s.

Daphne Pinkerson:

I think they actually had a very similar approach. They both went out on the streets. They were not governing from an ivory tower. It was interesting that both of them were so highly educated and went back into the inner city. Tubbs called them “boomerangs” — the people who leave and have every opportunity to go to Wall Street and make tons of money. But they chose to come back, which is… it’s a huge tribute to both of them because they could have lived a very, very comfortable life.

Kary Antholis:

Do you think that Tubbs was mindful of the efforts of politicians of the past as he approached what he was trying to do? In other words, do you think that he was aware of the limited success and/or failures of past activists, social organizers, who had tried to govern and had failed when he took on his path of governance?

Daphne Pinkerson:

Yeah.

Marc Levin:

Absolutely. I know he called Cory right before I came into his office. Not only to find out what it was like making Brick City, but it was like, “Can I trust this guy, Levin? What do I do? He’s about to walk into my office.” So I know that he and Cory are friends and yeah, I think he is a student of history. As he says in the film, in studying the civil rights movement, and John Lewis, and Martin Luther King and others, that’s what he really thought would be exciting. But as he says in the film, “I took one for the team,” realizing that governing is where you can take the energy of activism and turn it into legislation, turn it into real policy, and that he was going to take one for the team.

No, I think he’s a real student of the successes and failures. He knows… Kamala Harris has been a mentor to Michael Tubbs, Gavin Newsom, who’s the governor and was the mayor of San Francisco, they’re close. So there’s no doubt. He is very aware. And I think aware also of the kind of blow back that you would inevitably get if you put yourself in the arena. No matter what you do, you are going to have the haters, you’re going to have those coming after you throwing things at you. That goes with the territory. 

I think in one way, because he was in his 20s, he was even a little more open than Cory. Cory kind of kept his private life, his personal life, which we respected although we did work with his mom and dad but Michael was open. I said, “Come on!” You see his little office, his team, it’s like you’re in a college dorm. Everybody’s under 30, a bunch of kids. And I was like, “Come on. We gotta. And it can’t just be all policy. And it can’t just be all politics. You’re 20 something years old.”

So he did allow us to hang with his friends, to spend time with his wife. And obviously at the end of the film, he becomes a father himself. But he’s very mindful, I think, of the frustrations, successes, the failures that have gone before. And I think that’s part of what his idea in Stockton is, is let it be a model at a time that we’re so distracted by the dysfunction in Washington and so dispirited that to remind people, not only in Stockton, but all over this country, there are people that are actually doing things that are moving the ball forward. We don’t always hear their stories. We don’t always see them. But it is happening and that he wanted Stockton to be a model for, as he says, a new social contract, that the idea that out of this COVID crisis, there is no going back to the way it used to be. We’re going to go forward where we do care more. There is more equality, there is more justice, there is more compassion for the common good for the public servants, whether they’re teachers, whether they’re healthcare workers, whether they’re police. And so I think Michael sees Stockton as a model for other people who are out there trying to make a difference. So yeah, they’re very connected, definitely.

Kary Antholis:

Let’s talk a bit about the choice of the characters. Raymond Aguilar is a phenomenal presence in the film. What did you observe about the way he works to incentivize at risk communities to deter violence and how that differs from, or is similar to, other programs that you’ve witnessed around the country that are trying to do that same thing?

Marc Levin:

It’s really the AA model, the NA model. In other words, that the best healers are those who have been in the game and that it is people like Raymond who did 20 years who committed murder when he was 16 years old, just a teenager and somebody who had ripped off his grandmother, that they can be the most effective healers, hurt people, hurt other people. And yet as Sammy who runs Fathers and Families where Raymond works says, they also can grow and learn how to be the healers. And so I, since back in the day, because we’re still friends with Leifel Jackson. Leifel Jackson was known as OG, the Crips leader whose porch we were all hanging out when that drive by happened that Daphne captured. We’re still in touch with him.

And he was in and out of prison. And he eventually set up a youth center and ran a daycare program. And that this is the calling for those who have somehow survived just as Halim Flowers now and Momolu Stewart. Those who’ve survived, those who’ve been through it, those who know the madness of both the game, meaning the drug game, the gang game, the gun game, that whole scene and our criminal justice system, which has just totally been poisoned by this war on drugs, they’re the most effective healers, reformers, and should be the tip of the spear. And Raymond is such an example of that. He is so eloquent. Kids won’t listen to a lot of people and they sit there spell-bound by Raymond. 

And of course he has a reputation that precedes him, which is part of it that people know, that he’s no punk. They respect that. As they say, he put in his work and yet he learned and he grew. And so it’s moving. It’s moving to see him interact. It’s moving to see him say, “To hug my baby is not something I would have done years ago, but a man can be compassionate. A man can have love in his heart. It doesn’t mean he’s weak. It’s a strength.” I think that is the key.

And I would just finally say that Jasmine who’s in the film, her whole mission as she articulated, is to get rid of the school to prison pipeline and to close the juvenile prisons in California.

That sounds unrealistic, but believe it or not, she’s heading a task force appointed by governor Newsom to do exactly that, meaning that these youth juvenile detention centers have basically become a crime university. This is where everybody learns how to be a real criminal.

Kary Antholis:

Let’s drill down on Michael Tubbs Sr. Daphne, talk about getting access to him. 

Daphne Pinkerson:

I dealt more with the sort of backdoor mechanics of it. We have a friend who worked with Gavin Newsom and pleaded our case. And he said, “Well, I can’t open the door, but you can plead your case to this person.” And just got passed on from person to person and they were open to hearing us, but you have to get your foot in the door obviously. And that’s how we did it. And I think, Marc was the one who was personally in touch with Tubbs Sr., but I think he was… Marc, it didn’t take too much convincing, right?

Marc Levin:

Yeah. He wanted to cooperate, but you… I will just say this for the record that Daphne has not only gotten us into many places that we weren’t quite sure or we were initially rejected, but she’s also gotten us back into after we have been thrown out of… The most glaring example is of course Texas Death Row in Huntsville where I can’t remember exactly, but I think we shot a wet t-shirt contest that some of the correctional officers happened to be at. And somehow it got back to the department of corrections and we were invited to exit and to end that project. And to Daphne’s credit, she was able to plead our case and convince them that we deserved one last chance. 

Kary Antholis:

And Marc, tell us about interviewing Michael Tubbs Sr. What was he aware of about his son? What did you tell him? Had he remained in touch with Raymond Aguilar after Raymond’s release?

Marc Levin:

Yeah, he was more in touch with Raymond than he was with his own son. Their relationship, they communicated, but it was not that close. I think it’s actually what was amazing. He changed in prison. And he says it in the film. But we weren’t really not going into depth. I think for his first 10 years in prison when he was there with Raymond and they were cellmates. And that was a little unique because it was a black and a Mexican, and both the black gang and the Mexican gang were like, “What are you guys doing?” But they were heavyweights enough to say, “Hey, we’re buddies.”

But I think they were still involved in the game. But when Michael Tubbs Sr. met the woman that became his wife, that he married even while he was in prison, that was the beginning of the change. And then when he saw his son start to make his way from Stanford, I think all of those things had a profound impact on Michael Tubbs Sr. And he changed his direction. He’s now a mentor in the prison. He’s now a teacher with younger inmates coming in. And hopefully next time around on parole, he will get a shot to get out.

The interesting thing is it was Michael Tubbs, mayor Michael Tubbs, who didn’t know as much as I found out talking to Michael Tubbs Sr. He didn’t know even the exact details of what his father had done and how his father ended up with this, I don’t know, 20 year life sentence. Although he was hesitant at first, and I think really, quite literally till the film came out and he saw how people reacted, he was a little apprehensive. But he asked if he could see the whole interview of his father, the uncut interview. And I was more than willing to share it with him. And I think that was an eye opener for him. He wanted to see it right before he had his own son. And he wanted to learn about his father. 

Kary Antholis:

I found it fascinating that you consciously sought out a character like Joy, a character like Isaiah, in order to bring contemporary resonance to the situation and environment in which Michael Tubbs Jr. grew up and what his situation was. Tell us about identifying those two as people you wanted to follow. How did you find them? How did you find each of them? 

Marc Levin:

We went to Edison and it was Homecoming. We didn’t know. The mayor just said, “Go over and meet Brian Biedermann who’s now the superintendent of schools and who was the principal at one point of Edison and he’ll help you.” So we went over and it was Homecoming. And Homecoming was quite a big deal there, big football game. At halftime, it was, “Who’s going to be Homecoming King and Queen?” So that was really it. 

We thought there was this young man who was also in the film Junior, a Mexican American young man. And we’d gotten to know him a little and some people were saying, “He’s going to become Homecoming King. You guys should come.” So we’re there. And then all of a sudden they announced that Kendra, this woman won Homecoming King. And we were all looking at each other, like, “What? Wait a second, did we get something wrong?” And this is Stockton, California. And they just voted a woman Homecoming King. 

We were kind of just confused and kind of impressed. And it was through Kendra… and of course the football game was happening and that’s Isaiah was in the football game. But it was another player, a young player, who’s gotten a lot of attention that we were more focused on, but he was a good friend of Isaiah’s. So it was, we met the friends, we met Joy’s best friend who was Kendra, and we met Isaiah’s good buddy who was the star running back as only a freshman. And when we went to their houses to get to know them a little, we met Joy and we met Isaiah. 

Kary Antholis:

It’s amazing because as I was watching it, you connect the dots of Isaiah being in a position that Michael Tubbs Sr. was in. And that Joy is a young unwed mother, but actually has a domestic partner. But it is so seamless that it’s like kind of beneath the surface. You’re not even really conscious of why this resonates. And it was only when you said it that you were intentionally looking for young people that mirrored Michael Tubbs Jr.’s parents’ circumstances that it came together. It’s really a wonderful bit of connecting the past to the present in a subconscious way.

Marc Levin:

Well, I appreciate that. And I would say the reason besides wanting to make it current and plug it into the youth in Stockton was, again, going back to Stockton Scholars, Universal Basic Income, Advance Peace, it was like, “Okay, you have these programs, but is it going to make a difference?” And would it have made a difference in the life of your parents a generation ago if there were programs like these, if your mom had been able to go to college? Because that’s one of the things Michael, it’s fascinating, he carries a guilt that he was able to go to Stanford and get a scholarship, but that his mom never was able to go to college because she was a single mom and she had to support him. He always felt guilty.

And when he talks to young people about seeing his mom at her wits’ end, and struggling, and how tough it was. Could that make a difference? Stockton Scholars is for somebody like Joy who’s got a baby, and for Isaiah also to have an advocate like Raymond, to have an advocate like Jasmine, to have programs that are basically set up to, yeah, the kid made a mistake, he’s made a few mistakes. But look, Lavelle Hawkins an ex NFL player like Daphne was saying who they call a boomerang who comes back. Even though he could live anywhere, he comes back to the town he grew up in, to the high school he played for and was a father figure to Isaiah. He let him live at his house.

How that makes a difference and how there you see the cycle that we talk about, the school to prison pipeline, that generational cycle of poverty and prison. As Eddie Ellis, who is one of the organizers of the Attica revolt said, the history of the African American man is from the plantations, to the projects, to the prisons. So how do you break that? And sure you have these policies, but you need to feel it. You need to see the human side of that story. So that’s what we were really looking for. And it’s a miracle that we found it all at Edison High School.

Kary Antholis:

Give us an update on how Isaiah’s doing in the wake of his release on probation.

Marc Levin:

Isaiah’s doing great. He is hoping to start junior college. The COVID situation obviously has complicated things. He was hoping to actually play football. He’s been accepted into a junior college. He’s been taking catch up courses. He’s still very much connected to Jasmine. He’s doing very well, very excited. And Joy is doing great. Again, she’s not sure with the college situation. She’s going to a junior college that she can commute to. Her mom’s helping her with her son.

Kary Antholis:

Kary Antholis:

When is Michael Tubbs up for reelection?

Marc Levin:

In two months. He’s running for mayor in November. On this election day, there was a primary. I think there were 10 candidates and he just missed getting 50% which would have meant there would be no primary. I think there was an opponent. But I think most people feel he’s in a pretty secure position. But yeah, he’s going to go for another four years as the mayor of Stockton. 

Kary Antholis:

I so appreciate your time. I want to ask two last questions before we part. Number one. Can you tell us a bit about the way the two of you work together? Daphne, why don’t you start?

Daphne Pinkerson:

I would say I’m the more detail oriented person and Marc is the, “Just go out there, cast the net wide.” And I’m like, “Well, what if we don’t find any characters?” He’s like, “Have we ever gone out there and not found any characters? You just have to have faith.” And I’m like, “All right. All right.”

I feel like I keep it sort of grounded, organized. We’ll come up with an idea or be with Sheila, she’ll just say a word and then you have to figure out what the story is and we’ll hash it out and then make up a list of targets and characters. And then I’ll get on the phone until my ear is hurting, just calling people, talking to people, networking, finding the characters, typing up the profiles and then meeting with Marc and saying, “Okay, which one of these do you think are going to work?”

And that’s how we do it, hand in glove. And we usually go out there together to begin with, and then we try to be together as much as possible just to… because I think it’s easier to have two people on the ground and… but sometimes we have to split up when we’re doing multiple projects, and I’ll just keep the relationships going as he’s moving forward on the next project. And then that’s basically how it goes.

Marc Levin:

Yeah. I think that’s a good description. I think my father once said, “Daphne brought order to the Levin chaos and the Levin family and she helped us be more professional and more of a smooth running operation. I think one of the things that Daphne has done, which is really remarkable is that, she like my father, is a great listener and has stayed in touch with so many of the characters that we’ve been involved with, that we’ve been talking about.

Daphne is in touch with a lot of these people. It’s not just okay, the film’s done and you’ll never hear from us again, except maybe you’ll get a postcard about one of our new films. No, she has remained a contact, a friend, a mentor. That it’s more than just making a movie. It’s trying to make a difference and trying to really help. 

And then on the finance end, it’s really Daphne has run the business side of things, the financial side of things. As you’re aware, Kary, running a small, independent film company is tricky. I think back to, Kary, when we met you in the early ’90s, all the companies that have come and gone. And all the changes. We were shooting 16 millimeter film then, and working on Steenbecks, and then video, and then digital, all the changes that have happened in our business and navigating them and not going under, staying one step ahead, finding other talented people to work with, managing our staff, all of these Daphne has taken on and kept us at the forefront.

Kary Antholis:

One last question for both of you, what’s the best piece of advice, life advice, or professional advice, or storytelling advice, what’s the best piece of advice you ever got? 

Marc Levin:

That’s a tough one. Daphne.

Daphne Pinkerson:

I guess I’d have to go back to Al, just being open, listening, don’t go in with preconceived notions. And I would say that’s something I learned from Marc and Al. And it really comes out in the filmmaking that you can see that, as Marc said, follow the footage. It feels different than people who go in, they know exactly what they’re going for, they’re looking for that bite, they’re going to fill it in, maybe have some narration to link it together, that those films don’t kind of breathe and feel the same way.

Marc Levin:

Yeah, I think that’s pretty good. I would combine the two, follow your bliss, which is Joseph Campbell’s mantra. You got to follow your passion, you got to follow what you’re interested in, what’s not “Work.” It’s because you’re passionate about it. And because you want to find out these things anyway, you want to read about it, you want to learn about it, you want to meet people about it. So your work is your passion, it’s your life. And that is a prescription along with be open to the footage. And you can open that up to being open to life, to life experience. That you want to have an idea, you want to prepare, you want to workshop, you want discipline, you want all that. But from my perspective, if you don’t let go and let some of the chaos, some of the chance, and some of just the kismet in, you’re missing the real magic.

Kary Antholis:

Marc Levin and Daphne Pinkerson, thanks so much for being with us today and for all of your great work. 

Marc Levin:

Thank you, Kary.

Daphne Pinkerson:

Thanks, Kary.